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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: December 2018

Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I am sharing some of our favorite recipes.

Christmas Butter Cut-out Cookies

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
2 cups butter ( 4 sticks)
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
Powdered sugar icing (see below) and red and green colored sprinkles, for decoration

Directions

In a large electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and smooth.
Separate 3 of the eggs and leave one whole. Beat the 3 egg yolks and the remaining whole egg into the butter-sugar mixture. Set aside the eggs whites and use for another recipe.
Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.
Divide the dough into four equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one-fourth of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.


Frost the cookies lightly with the icing and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

Store in tightly covered containers for up to two months in a cool place, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together to make a thin icing.

Italian Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter
3 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans halves
Powdered sugar icing, see below
Multi-Colored sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Beat butter, powdered sugar, water, and vanilla until creamy in an electric mixer. Add flour and salt. Mix well.
Cover a pecan half with 1 tablespoon of dough and place on cookie sheets.
Bake for 30 minutes until lightly brown. Cool cookies on a rack.
Frost with powdered sugar icing and sprinkle colored sprinkles on top.

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together to make a thin icing.

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

Ingredients
1 ¼ cups, softened (2 ½ sticks)
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Red food coloring

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream together the butter, egg, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Divide the mixture in half. Add 1 teaspoon red food coloring to ½ the dough. Chill both halves.

Divide each half into 60 small balls. Press a red ball and a white ball together. Roll the two into a 4-inch rope and form into a candy cane shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 9 minutes. Cool.
These cookies also freeze well.

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Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I am sharing some of our favorite recipes.

Rainbow/Venetians/Neapolitan/Tri-Color Cookies

Ingredient

1- 8 ounce can almond paste
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
12-ounce jar apricot preserves
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dishes; line with waxed paper; grease paper.
Break up paste in large mixer bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and extract and beat with the mixer until fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in the flour and salt.
Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir into almond mixture with a wooden spoon, using turning motion similar to folding.
Remove 1-1/2 cups batter; spread evenly into one of the prepared pans. Remove another 1-1/2 cups batter to small bowl; tint green with coloring. Spread into the second pan. Tint remaining 1-1/2 cups batter red. Spread in remaining pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until edges are lightly golden; cake layers will each be 1/4 inch thick. Immediately remove cakes from pans onto large wire racks. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Cool.


Place red layer on upturned jelly roll pan or large platter. Heat preserves; strain; reserve chunks in a strainer for other uses. Spread half of the strained preserves over red layer. Top with a white layer. Spread with remaining preserves. Cover with a green layer, top side up.
Cover with plastic wrap. Weigh down with a large wooden cutting board, heavy flat tray or large book. Refrigerate overnight.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water.

Trim off the uneven cake edges with a sharp knife. Frost the top layer with half of the melted chocolate. Let chocolate dry. Turn the rectangle over and frost the remaining chocolate. Cut cake crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Makes about 6 dozen. Cookies freeze well.

Marshmallow Fudge Squares

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 (6 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons milk
30 large marshmallows

Directions:

In a 1-quart saucepan melt butter and chocolate squares. Remove from heat.
Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Into large mixer bowl, measure flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat at low-speed until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. With a spoon, stir in chocolate mixture. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate pieces and milk. Remove from heat.
Remove baking pan from oven; arrange marshmallows in rows on top of the baked layer. Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows are soft and puffed. Remove to wire rack. With a metal spatula, flatten marshmallows and spread evenly.
Drizzle melted chocolate mixture over marshmallow layer. Cool on rack 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate, until cold and the top is firm, about 2 hours. When cold, cut into small squares,
Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator to use up within 3 days.
Cookies may be frozen with between layers of wax paper.


Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I will share with some of our favorite recipes.

Pine-nut (Pignoli)Macaroons

Use only almond paste, not marzipan or canned almond filling.

Ingredients

1 can (8-ounce) almond paste, cut in small pieces
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup pine nuts, pignoli

Directions

Heat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In mixer bowl beat almond paste, sugar, egg whites, and lemon peel with an electric mixer until smooth. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls dough 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pine nuts to cover, then press them gently to adhere.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes until tops feel firm and dry when lightly pressed. Cool completely on cookie sheet on wire rack. Store airtight at room temperature. (Cookies are best eaten within 2 weeks, or they can be frozen.)

Italian Wedding Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
powdered sugar ( for rolling baked cookies in)

Directions

Cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; stir in vanilla.
Whisk together flour and salt; add gradually to butter mixture; stir in chopped nuts.
Chill dough if it seems too soft.
Form dough into 1 inch balls and place onto parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets.


Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or just until the cookies start to turn light golden-brown; remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; while cookies are still warm (but NOT hot) remove them from baking sheets and roll, a few at a time, in powdered sugar until evenly coated; cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Cookies may (optionally) be rolled in powdered sugar a second time once cooled to room temperature. Cookies freeze well.
Yield: 48 cookies.


Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
10 oz fettuccine

Directions

Boil a large pot of salted water, add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot melt the butter and add the shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and saute just until the shrimp turn pink on both sides. Over low heat add the cream and heat for a minute. Add the cheese and stir. Add the drained fettuccine and mix well. Add the parsley, stir and serve immediately.

Sautéed Winter Greens

4 servings

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large, deep skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return the drained greens to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture. When hot, transfer to a serving bowl to serve.

Very Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or other herbs you like, minced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the parchment with the dough on it on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt, garlic, cheese, and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

 


Christmas Morning Coffee Cake

Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Dough

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste

Glaze

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To Make the Dough:

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.

Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

To Make the Filling:

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

Assembly:

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.

Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.

Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1 inch intervals.

Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.

Baking:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.

For Christmas Morning

To make the glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before serving.


Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Oil 3 baking dishes, each just large enough to accommodate the fish, the broccoli and the rutabaga cubes.

 

Oven Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets, about 12 oz total

Topping
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Combine the breadcrumbs with the oil and the seasoning ingredients.
Press the breadcrumb mixture evenly on the salmon.
Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Oven Roasted Rutabaga Wedges

Rutabagas are in season now, so they make a good choice for a vegetable side. If you are not a fan of rutabaga, use Yukon Gold potatoes in this recipe.

French Seasoning

I use a blend that comes prepared and contains the following herbs:  shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.

1 rutabaga, about 1 ½ lb
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon French seasoning or seasoning of choice

Directions

Peel the rutabagas and cut them into 2″ chunks and place them in the prepared baking dish.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss with a spoon until all the pieces are evenly coated.
Spread the rutabaga in a single layer in the baking pan, making sure there is plenty of room between the pieces of rutabaga to allow them to brown.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil, lower the heat and continue baking, stirring 2 or 3 times during the process, until the rutabaga is fork tender and starts to caramelize around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss well and roast for 15 -20 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp-tender and the edges are starting to brown, tossing occasionally.

Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli or serve it on the side.

Really Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine all the ingredients in a glass dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well. If all the cheese is not melted, repeat the process.


Tri-tip steak is cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small, triangular cut from the sirloin. It is also known as a triangle steak, bottom sirloin steak, or Santa Maria steak. Each steak is boneless, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. Tri-tip is a good cut of meat because of its rich beef flavor, tender texture, as well as a cheaper price tag than similar steak cuts. It’s also a lean cut of meat, making it a healthier red meat option. The tri-tip was popularized in California and while it is now more widely marketed, you may need to request it from your butcher. Because tri-tip steaks are leaner than most cuts, consider marinating them.

So How did America discover this cut of beef? According to Steven Raichlen’s BBQ Bible, the story goes like this:

The year was 1952. The scene? An old Safeway store, long since razed, in this agricultural town of Santa Maria on California’s Central Coast. A one-armed butcher (really!) named Bob Schutz had the idea to spit-roast a crescent-shaped cut from the bottom of the sirloin that was normally ground into hamburger or cubed and sold as stew meat. “Are you nuts?’ a co-worker scoffed. “It’ll be tough as hell.”

But Schutz persevered, seasoning the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then threading it onto the spit. What later slid off the rotisserie blew the Santa Marians away. Carved across the grain, it was moist, tender, and satisfying—with the rich sanguine flavor of costlier beef.

I wish I could say tri-tip was an overnight success. But this cut might be the most popular cut of beef you’ve never heard of.

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2-pound beef tri-tip steak

Directions

In a large, plastic ziplock bag, blend the soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, water, garlic, and pepper. Place the beef tri-tip in the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a heavy ovenproof pan with olive oil and heat.on high until pan is very hot, then add the tri-tip, fat side down. Turn heat to medium and sear the beef on all sides, about 4 minutes.

Put the pan with the beef in the oven and cook it for about 10 minutes a pound, checking with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches 125 degrees F for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve the steak with your favorite sides. Mine are onion rings and a salad with blue cheese dressing.



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